Pamela ScharfeHuron County Health Unit
Pamela ScharfeHuron County Health Unit
Lake HuronLake Huron
850 cu. mi.850 cu. mi.3,540 cu. km.3,540 cu. km.VolumeVolume
3,827 mi.3,827 mi.6,157 km.6,157 km.Shoreline LengthShoreline Length
22 years22 yearsRetention TimeRetention Time
US (2000); Can (2001)US (2000); Can (2001)
51,700 sq. mi.51,700 sq. mi.134,100 sq. km.134,100 sq. km.Land Drainage AreaLand Drainage Area
23,000 sq. mi.23,000 sq. mi.59,600 sq. km.59,600 sq. km.Water AreaWater Area
750 feet750 feet229 meters229 metersMaximum DepthMaximum Depth
195 feet 195 feet 59 meters59 metersAverage DepthAverage Depth
Lake HuronLake Huron
Source:Source: St ate o f t he Grea t Lakes 20 05; NOAA, GLE RLSt ate o f t he Grea t Lakes 20 05; NOAA, GLE RL
Lake Huron is the world’s third largest lake, has the longest shoreline (almost 4,000 miles) and has more islands than any other lake in the world (over 30,000).
The islands, along with the low level of human impact on both sides of Lake Huron, create ideal habitat for many unique plants and animals, some even globally rare.
Manitoulin Island ranks as the world’s largest island in any freshwater lake.
Lake Huron is composed of the main basin, Georgian Bay, the North Channel and Saginaw Bay which all have very distinct characteristics. It’s watershed is the largest of all the Great Lakes and a landscape which varies from the forests and rocky areas of the north to the fertile farm land in the south.
Lake Huron’s retention time is 22 years and Maximum depth is 229 metres.
4.5 million people live in the watershed.
Lake Huron IssuesLake Huron IssuesOv erview:Ov erview:•• Restoration, but mostly protection, stewardshipRestoration, but mostly protection, stewardship•• Contaminants in fish and wildlifeContaminants in fish and wildlife•• Aquatic communities Aquatic communities –– major changes to food webmajor changes to food web•• Aquatic and terrestrial habitat Aquatic and terrestrial habitat –– high quality, high quality,
protection, binational biodiversity strategyprotection, binational biodiversity strategy•• AOCsAOCs•• Other issues: water levels, botulism, VHSOther issues: water levels, botulism, VHS•• Beaches Beaches –– bacteria, algal foulingbacteria, algal fouling•• Nearshore focus: bacterial contamination at Nearshore focus: bacterial contamination at
The following slides will provide an overview of Lake Huron issues, some of which require active restoration efforts. Overall the lake has not suffered the degradation that most of the other Great Lakes have. Many significant high quality areas exist in the lake and watershed that require protection and stewardship.
In recent years we have witnessed some major changes to the food web as well as new diseases and nearshore algal fouling. Beaches are a prominent feature in the southern portion of the watershed and recreational water quality has been an issue in some areas for decades.
This presentation’s nearshore focus is bacterial contamination at Lake Huron’s beaches.
Fish Consumption Fish Consumption Advisories in Lake HuronAdvisories in Lake Huron
Dioxin, f uran, & dioxin- like PCBs
Contaminant concentrations in fish from Lake Huron have been monitored over time in order to assess risk to human and wildlife health. Because certain contaminants bio-accumulate and bio-magnify in the food chain, fish are excellent indicators of pollutants in the aquatic ecosystem.
In comparison to the other Great Lakes, such as Lake Ontario, contaminant concentrations are relatively low in Lake Huron fish. Nevertheless, fish consumption advisories exist for the open lake and all Areas of Concern. Four chemicals are responsible for most of the fish consumption advisories in Lake Huron. PCBs and Dioxins still cause the majority of advisories.
Almost all sport fish exceed the U.S. trigger level for PCBs and about 94% of all Canadian advisories are due to an exceedance of Dioxin, Furans, and “dioxin-like”PCBs. Mercury advisories exist for many inland lakes in the watershed, as well as for some Lake Huron walleye and northern pike.
In the Ontario waters including Georgian Bay, North Channel and St. Marys River, the restrictions on trout, salmon, carp and channel catfish are caused by dioxins/furans/dl-PCBs. Toxaphene had triggered advisories in Ontario waters, but now this chemical accounts for less than 1% of all advisories. Some Ontario fishconsumption restrictions have increased however this is due to recent revisions to the consumption guidelines.
PCB Levels in Great Lakes PCB Levels in Great Lakes Herring Gull Eggs, 2003Herring Gull Eggs, 2003--0707
Big S ist
Big S ist
LakeLakeSuper iorSuper ior
Lake Mich iganMich igan
These are PCB levels in Herring Gull eggs from the 15 annual monitor sites across the Great Lakes. Starting in Lake Superior and working eastward (downstream).
Note that gull eggs from Lake Huron are both the most contaminated for PCBs (at Channel-Shelter Island in Saginaw Bay) and the least contaminated at Double Island in the North Channel and Chantry Island along the south-east shore in Ontario.
PCB Levels in Herring Gull Eggs from PCB Levels in Herring Gull Eggs from Three Lake Huron Monitoring Sites, Three Lake Huron Monitoring Sites,
19741974 19781978 19821982 19861986 19901990 19941994 19981998 20022002 20062006LnPC
Double IslandChantry Island
This Figure shows the temporal trends, depicting significant declines, of PCBs at the three Lake Huron annual Herring Gull monitoring sites.
Note the near identical rates of decline for the eggs from Double and Chantry Islands.
The rate of decline in eggs from Channel-Shelter Island is slower, the slope of the regression line is not as steep, and the PCB concentration in eggs is greater than in eggs from the other two colonies.
ZooplanktonZooplankton Benthic InvertebratesBenthic Invertebrates InvadersInvaders
Zebra musselZebra mussel
In the aquatic community ….
Changes are happening at almost all trophic levels of Lake Huron.
By 2003 major declines occurred in zooplankton which are important to prey fish.
Mysis and diporeia have declined, they were once important for moving energy off the bottom to predators higher in the water column and now less energy flows to predator fish since it is trapped in in zebra and quagga mussels at the lake bottom.
It is uncertain if declines in zooplankton were due to lack of food or due to predation by fish and exotic invertebrates, or a result of both top down and bottom up pressures.
Trawl BiomassTrawl Biomass
Data courtesy of Dr. Edward Data courtesy of Dr. Edward RosemanRoseman
Round GobyRound GobyTrout PerchTrout PerchSticklebackSticklebackSculpinSculpinBloaterBloaterRainbow SmeltRainbow SmeltAlewifeAlewife
Prey fish biomass is lower in recent years compared with the 1990’s.
This is primarily due to collapse of the alewife population, but many other species have declined as well, possibly due to an overall loss in system productivity that has been manifested in food web collapse.
Zebra and quagga mussels may be using energy or nutrients that formerly supported fish production.
Declines in Prey FishDeclines in Prey Fish
Chinook Salm onChinook Salm on
Chinook Salm onChinook Salm on
Declines in prey fish have resulted in declines in predator species such as Chinook salmon.
The top left photo is of a typical Lake Huron Chinook salmon prior to the collapse of alewife while the bottom right picture shows the condition some of these fish that have been seen recently.
Yellow Perch & WalleyeYellow Perch & Walleye
Cisco & BloaterCisco & Bloater
Emerald ShinerEmerald Shiner
Lake TroutLake Trout
Although overall fish biomass is lower, there are some positive trends.
Native fish species comprise a larger proportion of the lake biomass than in previous years.
These species include yellow perch and walleye, Cisco and bloater and emerald shiner.
Lake trout showed some signs of increased natural reproduction but the most recent data indicates that those encouraging signs may have been short-lived.
Proportion of Total HarvestProportion of Total Harvest
1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
SuckersL. Her ringCatfish
N. PikeY. Per chWalleye
BloaterL. T rout
Questions about the aquatic Questions about the aquatic ecosystemecosystem
•• Why are declines occurring in lower trophic Why are declines occurring in lower trophic lev els?lev els?
•• Will lack of Will lack of mysismysis and and diporeiadiporeia f or f ood result in f or f ood result in continued high predation on zooplankton?continued high predation on zooplankton?
•• Will alewif e recov er?Will alewif e recov er?
•• Will nativ e species continue to recov er?Will nativ e species continue to recov er?
•• What impact will more recently introduced What impact will more recently introduced species hav e? (e.g. round goby )species hav e? (e.g. round goby )
Major uncertainty exists about the future of the Lake Huron aquatic ecosystem.
Some of the major questions that will need to be considered are:
•Why are declines occurring in lower trophic levels?•Will lack of mysis and Diporeia for food result in continued high predation on zooplankton?•Will alewife recover?•Will native species continue to recover?•What impact will more recently introduced species have?
Aquat ic and Terrestrial EcosystemsAquat ic and Terrestrial Ecosystems
•• High in biological and landscape div ersityHigh in biological and landscape div ersity
•• Many rare and threatened speciesMany rare and threatened species
•• Coastal wetlands in the north rank among the Coastal wetlands in the north rank among the best in all Great Lakesbest in all Great Lakes
•• Biodiv ersity under stress Biodiv ersity under stress -- opportunities f or opportunities f or protection should be pursuedprotection should be pursued
The biodiversity of the Lake Huron watershed is under stress from a number of factors, such as invasive species, loss and fragmentation of habitat, rapid residential and industrial growth.
Degradation and loss of historical habitat is identified as a major stressor to Lake Huron and its watershed and was identified as a priority for action by the Lake Huron BinationalPartnership.
•• Def ine threats to biodiv ersity featuresDef ine threats to biodiv ersity features
•• Strategies to abate these threats Strategies to abate these threats
•• International action plan International action plan
•• Priority sites f or strategy implementationPriority sites f or strategy implementation
•• Indicators to measure health and Indicators to measure health and integrity of conservation targetsintegrity of conservation targets
Biodiversity Biodiversity Conservation StrategyConservation Strategy
NearshoreNearshoreCoastal wetlandsCoastal wetlands
Coastal terrestria lCoastal terrestria l
Native fishesNative fishes Open lake systemOpen lake system
The Lake Huron Biodiversity Conservation Strategy will develop strategies for conserving and restoring the biological diversity of Lake Huron, including its native species, coastal habitats, open waters, benthic zones, tributaries, and coastal terrestrial systems.
The Biodiversity Conservation Strategy will build on existing efforts around the watershed to protect these critical habitats.
Areas of ConcernAreas of Concern•• Canada:Canada:
Collingwood Har bor: Delisted 1994Collingwood Har bor: Delisted 1994Severn Sound: D elisted 2003Severn Sound: D elisted 2003Spanish H arbor: Area i n R ecover y 1999Spanish H arbor: Area i n R ecover y 1999
•• U.S.A.:U.S.A.:Saginaw BaySaginaw Bay
•• BinationalBinational: : St. St. Mar ysMar ys Ri verRi ver
In 1987, four Areas of Concern (Collingwood Harbour, Severn Sound, Spanish Harbour, and Saginaw River/Bay) were identified within the Lake Huron watershed, as well as the binational St. Marys River.
Collingwood Harbour and Severn Sound in Canada were delisted in 1994 and 2003, respectively. Monitoring is ongoing in the AOCs to ensure that environmental quality is maintained.
Each of the remaining Areas of Concern (AOCs) is being addressedthrough on-going programs.
Other Lake Huron IssuesOther Lake Huron Issues
Algae BloomsAlgae Blooms VHSVHSBotulismBotulism
Lakes Michigan-Huron / Lac Michigan-Huron
-0. 6-0. 4-0. 20. 00. 20. 40. 60. 81. 01. 21. 41. 6
1 75. 41 75. 61 75. 81 76. 01 76. 21 76. 41 76. 61 76. 81 77. 01 77. 21 77. 41 77. 6
W ater LevelsW ater Levels
Other Lake Huron issues include:•Concern over blue-green algae blooms and potential human health risks from cyanobacteria for example in Sturgeon Bay, just north of Parry Sound.•Increased Water Clarity from the filtering action of zebra mussels has been linked to algal blooms, die-offs, lower oxygen, loss of nutrients to the foodweb and appears to be related to botulism. Since 1998, outbreaks of Type E botulism have been recorded on beachesbetween Sarnia and Tobermory.•Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) has been confirmed in Lake Huron as early as 2005. This disease does not pose any threat topublic health. The disease was confirmed in lake whitefish, walleye, and Chinook salmon collected from northern Lake Huron in 2006. Special regulations have been implemented in Michigan in an attempt to prevent the spread of the disease.•Water levels for Lake Huron from January 1918-on have not shown a consistent long-term trend. Instead, they have alternated irregularly between higher and lower conditions. It remains to be seen whether the recent low water level conditions signal the beginning of a longer trend or are just another phase in the lake’s periodic swings between low and high water level conditions.
Nearshore Focus: Bacterial Nearshore Focus: Bacterial Contamination at BeachesContamination at Beaches
•• Bacterial Contamination at Michigan BeachesBacterial Contamination at Michigan Beaches
•• Bacterial Contamination at Ontario BeachesBacterial Contamination at Ontario Beaches
•• Multiple Pollution SourcesMultiple Pollution Sources•• Predictive ModelingPredictive Modeling
•• Communicating to the PublicCommunicating to the Public
•• Impact of Climate ChangeImpact of Climate Change
The last portion of my presentation is on the Nearshore Focus of Lake Huron: the Bacterial Contamination at Beaches.
Lake HuronLake Huron’’s Beachess Beaches
Lake Huron’s beaches are scattered along the coast of Lake Huron. The green on the map indicates where there are beaches—so as you can see there are a lot of beaches, albeit, they are not all sand beaches, some are cobblestone.
First I will be speaking about U.S. Beaches and then Ontario Beaches.
In the Michigan portion of the Lake Huron basin there are 158 public beaches. Intensive monitoring of Michigan beaches on the Lake Huron shoreline began in 2001.
In 2006, 16 closure events were reported at 17 different beaches in 5 counties totaling 48 days. The percentage of samples exceeding the E. coli standard in Michigan ranges from 2.2 to 4.9%.
Algal Fouling = Algal Fouling = ““MuckMuck””
Recently, excessive algal growth or “muck,” has covered the shoreline in Saginaw Bay and in some Ontario beaches, with a perceived increase in duration and spatial distribution compared to past years. A new development, the detection of human fecal indicators in the material has resulted in public concerns related to the potential human health implications associated with contact with the material.
The “muck” is predominantly comprised of the algae Cladophora which is now becoming more abundant because of invasive species, i.e. zebra mussels and quagga mussels. The subsequent degradation of the aesthetic value of the beaches has resulted in great concern among the public, especially local homeowners.
These photos are from the southeast shore of Lake Huron.
Photo : Dan Photo : Dan St au dach erSt au dach er, Bay City Times , Bay City Times
““Beach closings in Michigan Beach closings in Michigan on the rise,on the rise,””
Jeff Kart, Jeff Kart, The Bay City Times,The Bay City Times,August 06, 2008August 06, 2008
In 2006, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality organized a science committee to address potential human health risks associated with the muck on the shores of Saginaw Bay. The science committee was asked the science committee to address the E. coli and pathogen risks and specifically address citizen concerns on the presence of E. coli in material in the Saginaw Bay area. Because there has been only limited sampling of the muck, the report recommended that a comprehensive environmental sampling plan be developed to bettercharacterize sources, potential health risks and management strategies.
The science committee report identified the need for broad public outreach on methods to reduce the exposure to the muck. Local health departments have issued advisories indicating the importance of avoiding contact with the muck, good hygiene when coming in contact with the muck, washing the skin after contact and avoiding the muck altogether if a person has cuts or open sores. In addition the Michigan Department of Community Health is working with the local health departments to encourage the public to report to the local health department any illness that they believe might be tied to exposure to the beach, muck or water.
Bacterial Contamination at Bacterial Contamination at Ontario BeachesOntario Beaches
Algal Fouling Algal Fouling Beach Postings Beach Postings
Main pollutants:Main pollutants:•• PathogensPathogens•• Nitrogen and Phosphorus Nitrogen and Phosphorus
The Ontario side of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay contains well over 100 public beaches. Annual monitoring programs which are conducted by local municipal Health Units have found that the average amount of time beaches throughout Lake Huron are posted each year is only 2 to 3 days per swimming season. However within the Canadian southeast shore area which runs between Southampton and Sarnia, more prolonged beach postings have been occurring and investigations have been ongoing to try and determine causes.
In order to address this issue a Southeast Shore Working Group comprised of various federal and provincial government agencies, local health units, conservation authorities and other key stakeholders was formed to determine, coordinate, and implement appropriate management actions.
And in February 2004, the Lake Huron Science Committee, led by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, was initiated to conduct a science-based examination of bacterial inputs to beaches of the Huron County Shoreline.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, along with Environment Canada, continue their work to determine the causes and environmental conditions leading to algal fouling. Initial findings show two species of green algae Cladophora and Chara with distinctly different ecologies responsible for the shoreline fouling. Fouling by Cladophora is localized near areas of suspected nutrient discharge. Fouling by Chara is more widespread, seemingly recent and without clear cause at this time, however, nutrient enrichment has not been ruled out as a contributing factor to the problem.
Water Protection Steering Water Protection Steering CommitteeCommittee
Lakefront Associ ation
Friends of the Bayfield River
In response to national negative publicity in the late fall of 2003 regarding poor beach water quality at Huron County beaches, the County of Huron established the County of Huron Water Protection Steering Committee in the spring 2004. The Committee set three goals:
1. To bring together representatives of agencies, groups and municipalities, including Planning, Health Unit, Municipalities, Conversation Authorities, MOE, OMAF, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, cottage associations, watershed groups, etc.;
2. To prioritize and recommend implementation measures to participating agencies; and,
3. To coordinate activities at a broad level, subject to the resources of the participating agencies.
To date, over 1.7 million dollars has been leveraged for water protection activities directly related to the coordinating efforts of the WPSC.
Beach Water Sample ResultsBeach Water Sample Results““Old NewsOld News””
If you swam yesterday, youIf you swam yesterday, you’’re O K. re O K. The water was fine! The water was fine! Today might be okay too, but we wonToday might be okay too, but we won’’t t know becau se w e wonknow becau se w e won’’t be sampling t be sampling again until next Monday.again until next Monday.
Beach Water Sample Results are “Old News”. This slides tells it all of the way we have been doing beach water monitoring in Ontario.
If you swam yesterday, you’re OK. The water was fine! Today might be okay too, but we won’t know because we won’t be sampling again until next Monday.
Because it takes 24- 48 hours to get beach sample results out to the public due in part to - all day sampling; time & distance to transport to the lab; sample water filtered and plated; 18-22 hrs in incubator; time required to analyze data and then get our websites and info-lines updated; get media releases out; and then do interviews with themedia….
By then it is old news.
Huron County Health Unit has been looking closely at our U.S. counterparts and investigating and piloting predictive modeling for beach water quality as the public is not served by the current Ontario recreational water management protocol.
Huron County is identified in red.
Grey Bruce County is located to the north of Huron County.
Lambton County is located to the south of Huron County.
The 3 counties have 3 different approaches to beach water monitoring.
Predictive ModelingPredictive Modeling
The quality of Lake Huron water can change dramatically day to day, hour to hour or even minute to minute with either heavy rainfall or high wave action or both. The Huron County Health Unit encourages recreational users of Lake Huron to read the signs to reduce health risks and not to swim if:
You can't see your feet when standing in waist deep water and/or A heavy rainfall event two days prior to swimming.
Because of the delay in obtaining water results and by then the water may have changed to either safe or unsafe for swimming. It is for this reason, and based on several years of consistent water sampling data, that the Huron County Health Unit posts beaches on a seasonal average.
To further assist the public each beach has a volunteer rainfallvolunteer.
Multiple Pollution SourcesMultiple Pollution Sources
As we know all too well there are multiple pollution sources –too many to mention but a few of the top ones are:
•Storm sewer •portlands,/marinas•Agriculture and wildlife•Algae growth•Contaminated sand in the swash zone•High wave action•Faulty septic systems
These need to be identified; researched and remediated.
Heavy Rainfall EventsHeavy Rainfall Events
Heavy rainfall events usually during summer thunderstorms cause the land to be flushed picking up multiple pollution sources that lead to watersheds that feed Lake Huron.
Over thirty years of beach sampling have shown that the southeast shore of Lake Huron has elevated counts of E.coli for up to two days following a heavy rainfall event but when the water is calm and clear it is a safe day for swimming.
Southeast shore photos in a 24 hour span show:
Top Left – calm before the storm
Bottom Left – summer thunderstorm rolling in
Top Right – 24 hours and the water is quite muddy
Bottom Right - beach is littered with corn cobs, corn stalks and straw - this is where agriculture meets tourism
Communicating Beach Results Communicating Beach Results and Health Riskand Health Risk
•• What do we do What do we do with all that data?with all that data?
•• When do we When do we post/close post/close beaches?beaches?
•• How do we notify How do we notify the public?the public?
TALK TO THE PUBLICTALK TO THE PUBLIC
What do we do with all that data?
When do we post/close beaches?
How do we notify the public?
Talk to the public.
Climate ChangeClimate ChangeImpact on Beach Water Quality?Impact on Beach Water Quality?
Seasonal ChangesSeasonal Changes
Water LevelsWater Levels
What impact will climate change have on beach water quality:
(Temperatures)-Above normal air and lake temperatures -In the fall (Canadian Thanksgiving weekend Oct. 2007 and 2008) – SE shore beaches were busy – only difference from a July weekend were the leaves blowing down the beach.-People are swimming outside of traditional swimming seasons
(Precipitation)-More severe rain storms especially in the summer months bringing frequent periods of pollution to the lake when the land is flushed
(Seasonal Changes)-Colder springs and warmer falls are causing people to change their recreational beach use
(Water Levels)-Lower lake levels are providing wider beaches, attracting larger numbers of birds (i.e. seagulls, geese) which produces more contamination to beach sand and lake water-Wider beaches also attracts more people – increase in feeding seagulls which results in more birds
Beach Water QualityBeach Water QualityNeed to seek out partners to strengthen ourNeed to seek out partners to strengthen ourbeach water monitoring programs and water beach water monitoring programs and water quality standards:quality standards:
•• Predictiv e modeling to determine and report Predictiv e modeling to determine and report accurate and timely beach water qualityaccurate and timely beach water quality
•• Inf orm the public in a clear and timely wayInf orm the public in a clear and timely way•• Conduct research as to what are the pollution Conduct research as to what are the pollution
sources & their impactsources & their impact•• Identify and implement remediation strategiesIdentify and implement remediation strategies
Need to seek out partners to strengthen our beach water monitoring programs and water quality standards:
•Predictive modeling to determine and report accurate and timely beach water quality•Inform the public in a clear and timely way•Conduct research as to what are the pollution sources & their impact•Identify and implement remediation strategies
SummarySummary•• How we are dealing with the issues: How we are dealing with the issues:
direction direction –– remediation remediation –– protection?protection?
•• Stewardship and working with local Stewardship and working with local communitiescommunities
•• Principles of Framework Principles of Framework –– awareness, awareness, support community projects, take action, support community projects, take action, monitor and adaptmonitor and adapt
•• How we need to adapt to changing How we need to adapt to changing ecosystems?ecosystems?
How we are dealing with the issues: direction – remediation –protection?
Stewardship and working with local communities.
Principles of Framework – awareness, support community projects, take action, monitor and adapt.
How we need to adapt to changing ecosystems?
Janette Anderson, Env ironment CanadaJanette Anderson, Env ironment CanadaJames James SchardtSchardt, EPA, Great Lakes National Program Office, EPA, Great Lakes National Program OfficeJim Jim BredinBredin, State of Michigan, State of MichiganJeff Schaeffer, USGSJeff Schaeffer, USGS
Ted Briggs, Ontario Ministry of Env ironmentTed Briggs, Ontario Ministry of Env ironmentDav id Reid, Ontario Ministry of Natural ResourcesDav id Reid, Ontario Ministry of Natural ResourcesDanielle Sass, ORISE Research FellowDanielle Sass, ORISE Research FellowChip Chip WeselohWeseloh, Environment Canada, Environment Canada
Dav e MooreDav e Moore, Environment Canada, Environment Canada
Greg Greg MayneMayne, Environment Canada, Environment Canada
In closing I would like to acknowledge and thank these people for their contribution to this presentation on Lake Huron.
Thank you for your attention and I look forward to your participation in this afternoon’s discussion session on Lake Huron.